A busy season for Croatia’s digital nomad story is about to begin. Last year’s highlights included the introduction of the digital nomad permit on January 1, 2021, and destinations such as Zagreb and Dubrovnik attracted global interest with award-winning events such as Zagreb Digital Nomad Week and Dubrovnik Nomads-in-Residence project.
Both Zagreb and Dubrovnik will continue their push to position themselves in the market in 2022, with Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2022 set to take place in June, and a news conference before that in Dubrovnik, as previously reported on TCN: Work. Place. Culture.
Total Croatia News continues to present the elite lineup for the Work. Place. Culture., this time with Mandy Fransz. A former LinkedIn™ employee, Mandy had a front-row seat in witnessing the world’s largest professional network grow to currently nearly 800 million members in over 200 countries while generating +$320K in revenue in less than 12 months. She founded Make the Leap Digital from a tropical co-working space in Bali and since then she has worked, lived, and traveled around the world while helping clients around the world through digital courses, consulting, speaking, and interactive workshops. In 2019, she was nominated as one of the most inspiring and ambitious women entrepreneurs in The Netherlands and she has been featured in top (inter)national publications such as Thrive Global, VIVA400, & LINDA.
Another digital nomad event in Croatia, another appearance by Mandy Fransz. Tell us firstly about your relationship with Croatia.
Thank you for having me again! Excited to be back in Croatia — last year, I was invited as one of the keynote speakers at Zagreb Digital Nomad Week and since then it has been one of my favorite remote work destinations worldwide. From the food, culture, and work-friendly cafes & co-working spaces in Zagreb to working remotely from the beautiful coast in Split while exploring islands with cobblestone streets and emerald green waters such as Brač and Hvar island. I am excited to see what this new remote work adventure will bring!
Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich
You were one of the keynote speakers at Zagreb Digital Nomad Week. How was that for you, and how do you see Croatia’s progress in the DN sector since then?
It was an honor to be one of the keynote speakers at the Zagreb Digital Nomad Week last year, a well-deserved award-winning event! I hosted a workshop about “How To Build Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn” and a keynote “The Rise of Remote Work” sharing my top insights and lessons learned since I quit my corporate job to work remotely back in 2018 while building an online community of 25K+ social media followers and +75K group members inside the Remote Workers on LinkedIn group. The entire city was transformed into the event venue, which was a perfect way to attend a wide range of activities, keynotes, and workshops while exploring the city — also, one of the event highlights was the fun and insightful themed city walking tours in the evenings! (make sure to join the Ghosts and Dragons Tour by Secret Zagreb while you’re there!).
I believe Croatia has done a fantastic job in taking the digital nomad and remote work lifestyle to the next level with ambassadors and initiators such as Digital Nomad Association, Total Croatia News, and Saltwater Nomads — I am excited to see the momentum grow with the exciting events and conferences lined up for 2022.
Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich
The Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador program was a successful postscript to ZDNW, and now you will be working as a similar ambassador for Dubrovnik in May. Why did you take the role, and what do you expect it to involve?
I learned about the Ambassador Program while attending ZDNW last year, and immediately knew I’d apply if I’d have the chance — I believe that it’s a great initiative to explore a new destination while bringing together the digital nomad community by organizing local events and collaborating with different stakeholders to make a positive impact on the remote work lifestyle in Croatia. Additionally, I hope to discover the work-friendly cafes and co-working spaces, experience the food and culture, and explore the beautiful Dalmatian coast during the evenings and weekends.
Work. Place. Culture. takes place from May 5-7. Tell us about it, why people should come, and your role in it.
Tanja Polegubic from Saltwater Nomads asked me if I would be keen to return to Croatia this year for another exciting event focused on remote work and digital nomads. Since my last visit, Dubrovnik has been high on my list as I’ve heard many great stories from fellow digital nomads and expats — so when I heard about the Work. Place. Culture conference taking place from May 5 – 7 I immediately said yes!
Looking at the event program, I am positive that this is going to be another world-class event filled with activities, workshops, and keynote speeches across beautiful venues from “netwalking” the fortress walls, a Game of Thrones Tour, and a Sunset cruise dinner on a “Karaka”. I am honored (and a bit nervous haha!) to open the conference with my keynote and I’m excited to meet a few of my industry peers in-person, such as those I’ve been honored to be featured in the 2022 US LinkedIn Top Voices: Remote Work, and to reconnect with last year’s speakers and attendees, many of which turned into friends.
You have built your business on LinkedIn, where you used to work, and there are 5 speakers of the Top 10 2022 LinkedIn Top Voices: Remote Work speaking in Dubrovnik. Tell us about the relationship between LinkedIn and the remote work revolution.
I worked for LinkedIn’s EMEA headquarters in Dublin, Ireland as my first full-time job upon graduation. However, I’ve always had an interest in the digital nomad lifestyle, hence, in 2018 I decided to quit my comfortable 9-to-5 corporate job to “explore the world of remote work”. While working at the world’s largest professional network with currently +810 million members across the globe, I realized that the demand of the global workforce was shifting — many research and studies showed that (especially millennials and Generation Z) more and more people were craving the freedom and flexibility to work from wherever they feel the happiest and most productive.
I decided to share my remote work journey on LinkedIn, and I was asked to manage a small community on LinkedIn focused on digital nomads and remote workers. In the past three years, we’ve grown from ~2,000 members to currently +75,000 engaged members which clearly showcases the remote work revolution! Many of our members were forced to “work from home” due to the pandemic, and now desire to work remotely forever.
What are you looking forward to most from your time in Dubrovnik, and what are you hoping to get from the conference and ambassadorship?
As mentioned before, I’m excited to (finally!) meet a few of my industry peers in person and to reconnect with last year’s event attendees-turned-friends — and, of course, I really look forward to the exciting line-up of keynotes, workshops, and activities (in case you don’t know what a Karaka is, Google it now, please!). Finally, I’m thrilled to explore Dubrovnik and the Dalmatia region and I look forward to contributing to the digital nomad lifestyle and community in Dubrovnik as an ambassador.
Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich
And finally, what’s next for Mandy Fransz?
I am currently working remotely from beautiful Portugal while launching my signature, online group program for early-stage entrepreneurs who are ready to kickstart and grow their online personal brand and business so they, too, can enjoy the freedom and flexibility that they deserve before I’ll head to Croatia for the events and ambassador program. After that, I’m excited to see what serendipitous opportunities will cross my path!
Feel free to visit Mandy’s website or reach out to her via email at [email protected] for inquiries, or follow her on Instagram or LinkedIn for valuable tips and inspiration about LinkedIn, remote work, and (online) entrepreneurship.
You can download the full programme of the Work.Place.Culture Conference in Dubrovnik here.
Work. Place. Culture. is a collaboration between the City of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads and TCN, with support from the Digital Nomad Association Croatia and Dubrovacka Bastina. Zagreb Digital Nomad Week is a partnership between Zagreb Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads, and TCN.
For more news and features on digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section.